Chapter XXI - Chronology Of The Mahayana
In the previous chapters I have enumerated some features of Mahayanism, such as the worship of Bodhisattvas leading to mythology, the deification of Buddhas, entailing a theology as complicated as the Christian creeds, the combination of metaphysics with religion, and the rise of new scriptures consecrating all these innovations. I will now essay the more difficult task of arranging these phenomena in some sort of chronological setting.
The voluminous Chinese literature concerning Buddhism offers valuable assistance, for the Chinese, unlike the Hindus, have a natural disposition to write simple narratives recording facts and dates. But they are diarists and chroniclers rather than historians. The Chinese pilgrims to India give a good account of their itinerary and experiences, but they have little idea of investigating and arranging past events and merely recount traditions connected with the places which they visited. In spite of this their statements have considerable historical value and on the whole harmonize with the literary and archæological data furnished by India.
The Tibetan Lama Târanâtha who completed his History of Indian Buddhism in 1608 is a less satisfactory authority. He merits attention but also scepticism and caution. His work is a compilation but is not to be despised on that ground, for the Tibetan translations of Sanskrit works offer a rich mine of information about the history of the Mahayana. Unfortunately few of these works take the historical point of view and Târanâtha's own method is as uncritical as his materials. Dire confusion prevails as to chronology and even as to names, so [Page 64] that the work is almost useless as a connected account, though it contains many interesting details.
Two epochs are of special importance for the development of later Indian Buddhism, that of Kanishka and that of Vasubandhu and his brother Asanga. The reader may expect me to discuss at length the date of Kanishka's accession, but I do not propose to do so for it may be hoped that in the next few years archaeological research in India or Central Asia will fix the chronology of the Kushans and meanwhile it is waste of time to argue about probabilities or at any rate it can be done profitably only in special articles. At present the majority of scholars place his accession at about 78 A.D., others put it back to 58 B.C. and arrange the Kushan kings in a different order, while still others think that he did not come to the throne until the second century was well advanced.
The evidence of art, particularly of numismatics, indicates that Kanishka reigned towards the end of his dynasty rather than at the beginning, but the use of Greek on his coins and his traditional connection with the beginnings of the Mahayana are arguments against a very late date. If the date 78 A.D. is accepted, the conversion of the Yüeh-chih to Buddhism and its diffusion in Central Asia cannot have been the work of Kanishka, for Buddhism began to reach China by land about the time of the Christian era. There is however no reason to assume that they were his work. Kanishka, like Constantine, probably favoured a winning cause, and Buddhism may have been gradually making its way among the Kushans and their neighbours for a couple of centuries before his time.
In any case, however important his reign may [Page 65] have been for the Buddhist Church, I do not think that the history of the Mahayana should be made to depend on his date. Chinese translations, supported by other evidence, indicate that the Mahayanist movement had begun about the time of our era. If it is proved that Kanishka lived considerably later, we should not argue that Mahayanism is later than was supposed but rather that his relation towards it has been misunderstood.
The date of Vasubandhu has also been much discussed and scholars have generally placed him in the fourth or fifth century but Péri appears to have proved that he lived from about 280 to 360 A.D. and I shall adopt this view. This chronology makes a reasonable setting for the development of Buddhism. If Kanishka reigned from about 78 to 123 A.D. or even later, there is no difficulty in supposing that Aśvaghosha flourished in his reign and was followed by Nâgârjuna. The collapse of the Kushan Empire was probably accompanied by raids from Iranian tribes, for Persian influence appears to have been strong in India during the confused interval between the Kushans and Guptas (225-320). The latter inaugurated the revival of Hinduism but still showed favour to individual Buddhists, and we know from Fa-Hsien that Buddhism was fairly flourishing during his visit to India (399-415).
There is nothing improbable in supposing that Vasubandhu, who is stated to have lived at Court, was patronized by the early Guptas. The blank in Buddhist history which follows his career can be explained first by the progress of Hinduism at the expense of Buddhism and secondly by the invasions of the Huns. The Chinese pilgrim Sung-Yün has left us an account of India in this distressful period and for the seventh century the works of Hsüan Chuang and I-Ching give copious information.
In investigating the beginnings of the Mahayana we may start from the epoch of Asoka, who is regarded by tradition as the patron and consolidator of the Hinayanist Church. And the tradition seems on the whole correct: the united evidence of [Page 66] texts and inscriptions goes to show that the Buddhists of Asoka's time held the chief doctrines subsequently professed by the Sinhalese Church and did not hold the other set of doctrines known as Mahayanist. That these latter are posterior in time is practically admitted by the books that teach them, for they are constantly described as the crown and completion of a progressive revelation.
Thus the Lotus illustrates the evolution of doctrine by a story which curiously resembles the parable of the prodigal son except that the returned penitent does not recognize his father, who proceeds to reveal gradually his name and position, keeping back the full truth to the last. Similarly it is held in the Far East that there were five periods in Śâkyamuni's teaching which after passing through the stage of the Hinayana culminated in the Prajñâ-pâramitâ and Amitâbha sutras shortly before his death.
Such statements admit the historical priority of the Hinayana: it is rudimentary (that is early) truth which needs completion and expansion. Many critics demur to the assumption that primitive Buddhism was a system of ethics purged of superstition and mythology. And in a way they are right. Could we get hold of a primitive Buddhist, we should probably find that miracles, magic, and superhuman beings played a large part in his mind and that the Buddha did not appear to him as what we call a human teacher.
In that sense the germs of the Mahayana existed in the life-time of Gotama. But the difference between early and later Buddhism lies in this, that the deities who surround the Buddha in the Pali Pitakas are mere accessories: his teaching would not be affected if they were all removed. But the Bodhisattvas in the Lotus or the Sutra of the Happy Land have a doctrinal significance.
Though in India old ideas persist with unusual vitality, still even there they can live only if they either develop or gather round them new accretions. As one of the religions of India, Buddhism was sensitive to the general movement of Indian thought, or rather it was a part of that movement. We see as clearly in Buddhist as in non-Buddhist India that there was a tendency to construct philosophic systems and another tendency to create deities satisfying to the emotions as well as to the intellect and yet another tendency to compose new scriptures.
But apart [Page 67] from this parallel development, it becomes clear after the Christian era that Buddhism is becoming surrounded by Hinduism. The influence is not indeed one-sided: there is interdependence and interpenetration but the net result is that the general Indian features of each religious period overpower the specially Buddhist features and in the end we find that while Hinduism has only been profoundly modified Buddhism has vanished.
If we examine the Pali Pitakas, including the heresies mentioned in the Kathâvatthu, we find that they contain the germs of many Mahayanist ideas. Thus side by side with the human portrait of the Buddha there is the doctrine that he is one in a series of supernatural teachers, each with the same life-history, and this life is connected with the whole course of nature, as is shown by the sympathetic earthquakes which mark its crises.
His birth is supernatural and had he willed it he could have lived until the end of the present Kalpa. So, too, the nature of a Buddha when he is released from form, that is after death, is deep and unfathomable as the ocean. The Kathâvatthu condemns the ideas (thus showing that they existed) that Buddhas are born in all quarters of the universe, that the Buddha was superhuman in the ordinary affairs of life, that he was not really born in the world of men and that he did not preach the Law himself.
These last two heresies are attributed by the commentary to the Vetulyakas who are said to have believed that he remained in the Tushita heaven and sent a phantom to preach on earth. Here we have the rudiments of the doctrine afterwards systematized under the name of the three bodies of Buddha. Similarly though Nirvana is regarded as primarily an ethical state, the Pali Canon contains the expression Nirvâṇadhâtu and the idea that Nirvana is a sphere or realm (âyatanam) which transcends the transitory world and in which such antitheses are coming and going, birth and death, cease to exist.
This foreshadows the doctrine of Bhûta-tathatâ and we seem to hear a prelude to the dialectic of Nâgârjuna when the Kathâvatthu discusses whether Suññatâ or the void is predicable of the Skandhas and when it condemns the views that anything now existing existed in the past: and that knowledge of the present is possible (whereas the moment anything is known it is [Page 68] really past). The Kathâvatthu also condemns the proposition that a Bodhisattva can be reborn in realms of woe or fall into error, and this proposition hints that the career of a Bodhisattva was considered of general interest.
The Mahayana grows out of the Hinayana and in many respects the Hinayana passes into it and is preserved unchanged. It is true that in reading the Lotus we wonder how this marvellous cosmic vision can represent itself as the teaching of Gotama, but the Buddhacarita of Aśvaghosha, though embellished with literary mythology, hardly advances in doctrine beyond the Pali sutras describing the marvels of the Buddha's nativity and the greater part of Nâgârjuna's Friendly Epistle, which purports to contain an epitome of the faith, is in phraseology as well as thought perfectly in harmony with the Pali Canon.
Whence comes this difference of tone in works accepted by the same school? One difficulty of the historian who essays to account for the later phases of Buddhism is to apportion duly the influence of Indian and foreign elements. On the one hand, the Mahayana, whether we call it a development or perversion, is a product of Indian thought. To explain its trinities, its saviours, its doctrine of self sacrifice it is not necessary to seek abroad.
New schools, anxious to claim continuity and antiquity, gladly retained as much of the old doctrine as they could. But on the other hand, Indian Buddhism came into contact with foreign, especially Iranian, ideas and undoubtedly assimilated some of them. From time to time I have drawn attention to such cases in this work, but as a rule the foreign ideas are so thoroughly mastered and indianized that they cease to be obvious. They merely open up to Indian thought a new path wherein it can move in its own way.
In the period following Asoka's death Buddhism suffered a temporary eclipse. Pushyamitra who in 184 B.C. overthrew the Mauryas and established the Sunga dynasty was a patron of the Brahmans. Târanâtha describes him as a ferocious persecutor, and the Divyâvadâna supports the story. But the persecution, if it really occurred, was probably local and did not seriously check the spread of Buddhism, which before the time of Kanishka had extended northwards to Bactria and Kashmir.
The latter territory became the special home of the Sarvâstivâdins. It was [Page 69] in the reign of Pushyamitra that the Græco-Bactrian king Menander or Milinda invaded India (155-3 B.C.) and there were many other invasions and settlements of tribes coming from the north-west and variously described as Sakas, Pahlavas, Parthians and Yavanas, culminating in the conquests of the Kushans. The whole period was disturbed and confused but some general statements can be made with considerable confidence.
From about 300 B.C. to 100 A.D. we find inscriptions, buildings and statues testifying to the piety of Buddhist and Jain donors but hardly any indications of a similar liberality to Brahmans. In the second and third centuries A.D. grants of land to Brahmans and their temples begin to be recorded and in the fourth century (that is with the rise of the Gupta Dynasty) such grants become frequent. These facts can hardly be interpreted otherwise than as meaning that from 300 B.C. to 100 A.D. the upper classes of India favoured Buddhism and Jainism and did not favour the Brahmans in the same way or to the same extent.
But it must be remembered that the religion of the Brahmans continued throughout this period and produced a copious literature, and also that the absence of works of art may be due to the fact that their worship was performed in sacrificial enclosures and that they had not yet begun to use temples and statues. After the first century A.D. we have first a gradual and then a rapid rise in Brahmanic influence.
Inscriptions as well as books indicate that a linguistic change occurred in the same period. At first popular dialects were regarded as sufficiently dignified and current to be the medium for both scripture and official records. Sanskrit remained a thing apart—the peculiar possession of the Brahman literati. Then the popular language was Sanskritized, the rules of Sanskrit grammar being accepted as the standard to which it ought to conform, though perfect conformity was impracticable. In much the same way the modern Greeks try to bring Romaic into line with classical Greek.
Finally Sanskrit was recognized as the proper language for literature, government and religion. The earliest inscriptions in correct Sanskrit seem to date from the second century A.D. Further, the invaders who entered India from the [Page 70] north-west favoured Buddhism on the whole. Coins indicate that some of them worshipped Śiva but the number and beauty of Buddhist monuments erected under their rule can hardly be interpreted except as a sign of their patronage.
And their conversion was natural for they had no strong religious convictions of their own and the Brahmans with their pride of caste shrank from foreigners. But Buddhism had no prejudice of race or class: it was animated by a missionary spirit and it was probably the stronger creed at this period. It not only met the invaders on their entry into India but it sent missionaries to them in Bactria and Afghanistan, so that to some extent they brought Buddhism with them. But it was a Buddhism combined with the most varied elements. Hellenic art and religion had made the figures of Apollo, Herakles and Helios familiar in Bactria, and both Bactria and northern India were in touch with Zoroastrians.
The mixed cults of these borderlands readily professed allegiance to the Buddha but, not understanding Indian ideas, simply made him into a deity and having done this were not likely to repudiate other Indian deities. Thus in its outward form the Buddhism of the invaders tended to be a compound of Indian, Greek and Persian ideas in which Sun worship played a large part, for not only Indian myths, but Apollo and Helios and the Persian Mithra all entered into it.
Persian influence in art is discernible as early as the architecture of Asoka: in doctrine it has something to do with such figures as Vairocana and Amitâbha. Græco-Roman influence also was powerful in art and through art affected religion. In Asoka's time likenesses of the Buddha were unknown and the adoration of images, if not entirely due to the art of Gandhara, was at least encouraged by it.
But though coins and sculpture bring clearly before us a medley of deities corresponding to a medley of human races, they do not help us much in tracing the growth of thought, phases of which are preserved in a literature sufficiently copious though the record sometimes fails at the points of transition where it would be of most interest. It is natural that sacred books should record accepted results rather than tentative innovations and even disguise the latter. But we can fix a few dates which enable us to judge what shape Buddhism was taking [Page 71] about the time of the Christian era.
The Tibetan historian Târanâtha is not of much help, for his chronology is most confused, but still he definitely connects the appearance of Mahayanist texts with the reign of Kanishka and the period immediately following it and regards them as a new phenomenon. Greater assistance is furnished by the Chinese translators, whose dates are known with some exactitude. Thus the earliest Buddhist work rendered into Chinese is said to be the sutra of forty-two sections, translated by Kâśyapa Mâtanga in 67 A.D. I
t consists of extracts or resumés of the Buddha's teaching mostly prefaced by the words "The Buddha said," doubtless in imitation of the Confucian Analects where the introductory formula "The master said" plays a similar part. Its ideas and precepts are Hinayanist: the Arhat is held up as the ideal and in a remarkable passage where the degrees of sanctity are graded and compared no mention is made of Bodhisattvas. This first translation was followed by a long series of others, principally from the Sûtra-Piṭaka, for very little of the Vinaya was translated before the fifth century. A
great number of Hinayanist sutras were translated before 300 A.D. but very few after 450. On the other hand portions of the sutra about Amîda's Paradise, of the Prajñâ-pâramitâ, and of the Avataṃsaka were translated about 150 A.D. and translations of the Lotus and Lalita-vistara appeared about 300.
Great caution is necessary in using these data and the circumstances of China as well as of India must be taken into account. If translations of the Vinaya and complete collections of sutras are late in appearing, it does not follow that the corresponding Indian texts are late, for the need of the Vinaya was not felt until monasteries began to spring up. Most of the translations made before the fifth century are extracts and of indifferent workmanship.
Some are retained in the Chinese Tripitaka but are superseded by later versions. But however inaccurate and incomplete these older translations may be, if any of them can be identified with a part of an extant Sanskrit [Page 72] work it follows that at least that part of the work and the doctrines contained in it were current in India or Central Asia some time before the translation was made. Applying this principle we may conclude that the Hinayana and Mahayana were flourishing side by side in India and Central Asia in the first century A.D. and that the Happy Land sutras and portions of the Prajñâ-pâramitâ already existed.
From that time onwards Mahayanist literature as represented by Chinese translations steadily increases, and after 400 A.D. Hinayanist literature declines, with two exceptions, the Vinaya and the Abhidharma books of the Sarvâstivâdins. The Vinaya was evidently regarded as a rule of life independent of theology, but it is remarkable that Hsüan Chuang after his return from India in 645 should have thought it worth while to translate the philosophy of the Sarvâstivâdins.
Other considerations render this chronology probable. Two conspicuous features of the Mahayana are the worship of Bodhisattvas and idealist philosophy. These are obviously parallel to the worship of Śiva and Vishnu, and to the rise of the Vedanta. Now the worship of these deities was probably not prevalent before 300 B.C., for they are almost unknown to the Pali Pitakas, and it was fully developed about the time of the Bhagavad-gîtâ which perhaps assumed its present form a little before the Christian era. Not only is the combination of devotion and metaphysics found in this work similar to the tone of many Mahayanist sutras but the manifestation of Krishna in his divine form is like the transformation scenes of the Lotus.
The chief moral principle of the Bhagavad-gîtâ is substantially the same as that prescribed for Bodhisattvas. It teaches that action is superior to inaction, but that action should be wholly disinterested and not directed to any selfish object. This is precisely the attitude of the Bodhisattva who avoids the inaction of those who are engrossed in self-culture as much as the pursuit of wealth or pleasure.
Both the Gîtâ and Mahayanist treatises lay stress on faith. He who thinks on Krishna when dying goes to Krishna just as he who thinks on Amitâbha goes [Page 73] to the Happy Land and the idea is not unknown to the Pali texts, for it finds complete expression in the story of Maṭṭhakuṇḍali.
The idea of a benevolent deity to be worshipped with devotion and faith and not with ceremonies is strange to old Buddhism and old Brahmanism alike. It was a popular idea which became so strong that neither priests nor Bhikshus could ignore it and in its ultimate result it is hard to say whether Buddhist or Brahmanic elements are more prominent. Both Avalokita and Krishna are Devas.
The former has the beauty of holiness and the strength which it gives, but also the weakness of a somewhat abstract figure: the latter is very personal and springs from the heart of India but to those who are not Hindus seems wanting in purity and simplicity. The divine character of both figures is due to Brahmanism rather than Buddhism, but the new form of worship which laid stress on a frame of mind rather than on ceremonial and the idea of Avatâras or the periodic appearance of superhuman saviours and teachers indicate the influence of Buddhism on Brahmanism.
There is a similar parallel between the newer Buddhist philosophy and the Vedantist school represented by Śankara, and Indian critics detected it. Śankara was called a Pracchanna-bauddha or crypto-buddhist by his theological opponents and the resemblance between the two systems in thought, if not in word, is striking.
Both distinguish relative and absolute truth: for both the relative truth is practically theism, for both absolute truth is beyond description and whether it is called Brahman, Dharma-kâya or Śûnyatâ is not equivalent to God in the Christian or Mohammedan sense. Just as for the Vedantist there exist in the light of the highest knowledge neither a personal God nor an individual soul, so the Mâdhyamika Sûtra can declare that the Buddha does not really exist.
The Mahayanist philosophers do not use the word Mâyâ but they state the same theory in a more subjective form by ascribing the appearance of the phenomenal world to ignorance, a nomenclature [Page 74] which is derived from the Buddha's phrase, "From ignorance come the Sankhâras."
Here, as elsewhere, Buddhist and Brahmanic ideas acted and reacted in such complex interrelations that it is hard to say which has borrowed from the other. As to dates, the older Upanishads which contain the foundations but not the complete edifice of Vedantism, seem a little earlier than the Buddha. Now we know that within the Vedantist school there were divergences of opinion which later received classic expression in the hands of Śankara and Râmânuja.
The latter rejected the doctrines of Mâyâ and of the difference between relative and absolute truth. The germs of both schools are to be found in the Upanishads but it seems probable that the ideas of Śankara were originally worked out among Buddhists rather than among Brahmans and were rightly described by their opponents as disguised Buddhism. As early as 520 A.D. Bodhidharma preached in China a doctrine which is practically the same as the Advaita.
The earliest known work in which the theory of Mâyâ and the Advaita philosophy are clearly formulated is the metrical treatise known as the Kârikâ of Gauḍapâda. This name was borne by the teacher of Śankara's teacher, who must have lived about 700 A.D., but the high position accorded to the work, which is usually printed with the Mâṇḍûkya Upanishad and is practically regarded as a part of it, make an earlier date probable. Both in language and thought it bears a striking resemblance to Buddhist writings of the Mâdhyamika school and also contains many ideas and similes which reappear in the works of Śankara.
On the other hand the Lankâvatâra Sûtra which was translated into Chinese in 513 and therefore can hardly have been composed later than 450, is conscious that its doctrines resemble Brahmanic philosophy, for an interlocutor [Page 75] objects that the language used in it by the Buddha about the Tathâgatagarbha is very like the Brahmanic doctrine of the Âtman. To which the Buddha replies that his language is a concession to those who cannot stomach the doctrine of the negation of reality in all its austerity.
Some of the best known verses of Gauḍapâda compare the world of appearance to the apparent circle of fire produced by whirling a lighted torch. This striking image occurs first in the Maitrâyana Upanishad (VI. 24), which shows other indications of an acquaintance with Buddhism, and also in the Lankâvatâra Sûtra.
A real affinity unites the doctrine of Śankara to the teaching of Gotama himself. That teaching as presented in the Pali Pitakas is marked by its negative and deliberately circumscribed character. Its rule is silence when strict accuracy of expression is impossible, whereas later philosophy does not shrink from phrases which are suggestive, if not exact. Gotama refuses to admit that the human soul is a fixed entity or Âtman, but he does not condemn (though he also does not discuss) the idea that the whole world of change and becoming, including human souls, is the expression or disguise of some one ineffable principle.
He teaches too that the human mind can grow until it develops new faculties and powers and becomes the Buddha mind, which sees the whole chain of births, the order of the world, and the reality of emancipation. As the object of the whole system is practical, Nirvana is always regarded as a terminus ad quem or an escape (nissaranam) from this transitory world, and this view is more accurate as well as more edifying than the view which treats Brahman or Śûnyatâ as the origin of the universe.
When the Vedanta teaches that this changing troubled world is merely the disguise of that unchanging and untroubled state into which saints can pass, it is, I believe, following Gotama's thought, but giving it an expression which he would have considered imperfect.
Translated by Schiefner, 1869. Târanâtha informs us (p. 281) that his chief authorities were the history of Kshemendrabhadra, the Buddhapurâna of Indradatta and Bhaṭaghaṭî's history of the succession of the Âcâryas.2.
The Tibetans generally translate instead of transliterating Indian names. It is as if an English history of Greece were to speak of Leader of the People instead of Agesilaus.3.
They place Kanishka, Vâsishka, Huvishka and Vasudeva before Kadphises I and Kadphises II.4.
E.g. Staël Holstein who also thinks that Kanishka's tribe should be called Kusha not Kushan. Vincent Smith in his latest work (Oxford History of India, p. 130) gives 120 A.D. as the most probable date.5.
My chief difficulty in accepting 78-123 A.D. as the reign of Kanishka is that the Chinese Annals record the doings of Pan Ch'ao between 73 and 102 in Central Asia, with which region Kanishka is believed to have had relations, and yet do not mention his name. This silence makes it primâ facie probable that he lived either before or after Pan Ch'ao's career.
The catalogues of the Chinese Tripitaka state that An-Shih-Kao (148-170 A.D.) translated the Mârgabhûmi-sûtra of Sangharaksha, who was the chaplain of Kanishka. But this unfortunately proves nothing except that Kanishka cannot have been very late. The work is not a scripture for whose recognition some lapse of time must be postulated. An-Shih-Kao, who came from the west, may very well have translated a recent and popular treatise.
In this connection we may remember Târanâtha's statement that Kanishka's Council put an end to dissentions which had lasted about a century. But he also states that it was after the Council that Mahayanist texts began to appear. If Kanishka flourished about 50 A.D. this would fit in with Târanâtha's statements and what we know of the history of Buddhism.7.
B.E.F.E.O. 1911, 339-390. Satiśchandra Vidyâbhûshana arrived at the same conclusion in J.A.S.B. 1905, p. 227.8.
Mahâparinib. Sut. III.10.
Majj. Nik. 72.11.
Udâna. VIII. 1-4.12.
Accariyabbhutasuttam. Majj. Nik. 123.13.
That of Rudradaman at Girnar, dated 72 in the Saka Era, has hitherto been considered the oldest, but it is now said that one discovered at Isapur near Muttra is older. See J.R.A.S 1912, p. 114.15.
E.g. Kadphises II and Vasudeva.16.
Chaps. XII, XIII.17.
The last section (42) as translated by Teitaro Suzuki in the Sermons of a Buddhist Abbot may seem an exception, for it contains such statements as "I consider the doctrine of sameness as the absolute ground of reality." But the translation seems to me doubtful.18.
Just as all gods and worlds are seen within Krishna's body, so we are told in the Kâraṇḍa-vyûha (which is however a later work) that in the pores of Avalokita's skin are woods and mountains where dwell saints and gods.20.
Bhag. G. VIII. 5.21.
Commentary on Dhammapada, P.T.S. edition, pp. 25 ff. especially p. 33.22.
See Râmânuja, Śrîbhâshya, II. 2, 27 and Padma-Purâṇa uttarakanda 43 (quoted by Suhtankar in Vienna Oriental Journ. vol. XXII. 1908). Mâyâvâdam asacchâstrâm pracchannam bauddham ucyate. The Mâdhvas were specially bitter in their denunciation of Śankara.23.
Or as itself forming four separate Upanishads. For other arguments in favour of an early date see Walleser, Älterer Vedânta, pp. 14 ff. He states that the Kârikâ is quoted in the Tibetan translations of Bhavaviveka's Tārkajvālā. Bhavaviveka was certainly anterior to the travels of Hsüan Chuang and perhaps was much earlier. But if he died about 600 A.D. a work quoted by him can hardly have been later than 550 and may be much earlier. But see also Jacobi in J.A.O.S. April, 1913, p. 51.24.
For the resemblances to Nâgârjuna see J.R.A.S. 1910, pp. 136 ff. Especially remarkable are II. 32 na nirodho na cotpattir, etc., and IV. 59 and the whole argument that causation is impossible. Noticeable too is the use of Buddhist terms like upâya, nirvâṇa, buddha and âdibuddha, though not always in the Buddhist sense.